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Government defers land reclamation at Pulau Ubin
by Chia Hui Kheng on Channel News Asia, 14 Jan 02

On-line version on Channel News Asia (Singapore)

The government is putting off land reclamation at Pulau Ubin for as long as the island is not required for development.

A statement by the National Development Ministry said the decision would allow the marine life at Chek Jawa to be retained and preserved in its natural state for as long as possible.

It added that the National Parks Board will set up a committee to work out a comprehensive plan to maintain Chek Jawa's ecosystem.

The Ministry said it made the decision after assessing reports submitted by the Nature Society and experts from the National Institute of Education, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and other interested individuals.

These groups had recommended that if reclamation is to go ahead, it should be carried out on only a small part of Chek Jawa. But the Ministry said reclaiming such a small area was not cost effective. Land reclamation work was to have begun at the end of last year, but the Ministry deferred it to consult experts on how best to protect the marine life there following public feedback.

In fact, when National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and senior government officials visited Chek Java last October, they were struck by the sight of families exploring the marine life in the area.

Mr Mah said: "That made me realise that we're not talking about saving this for the animals, we're saving it for our people. "We're making decisions for the future, we have to make very careful decisions, that's when we decided to consider the options."

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